Willie spent his youth climbing in Northeast Patagonia with his father and twin brother, Damian. This served as a strong background for a his career, which took-off when he and Damian moved to the States at the age of 21, and more recently earned him a place among the world’s mountaineering elite.
When Willie and Damian got to the U.S. they headed straight for the big walls of Yosemite. In the years to follow they made over 80 ascents of El Capitan. Each year Willie has returned to Argentina to guide trips on Aconcagua, which he has climbed over 50 times. These ascents include the difficult South face and a speed record that he held for five years.
In 1995 Willie rose to fame when he obtained the first ascent of the 3,000-foot North Face of Pakistan’s Nameless Tower (“Book of Shadows” VII, 5.10+ A4 W14). He has since led over 20 Himalayan expeditions, including eleven Everest summits, Cho Oyu, Ama Dablam, an attempt on the North face of Jannu, and the “The Crystal Snake” first ascent on Nuptse. This accomplishment made with his brother Damian in 2003 won them Climbing magazine’s Golden Piton Award. Willie has also set speed records in Africa on Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya, made three attempts on the highly coveted Pakistani peak Latok 1, done first ascents on the big walls of Baffin Island and climbed dozens of Bolivian and Peruvian peaks. In 2014, Willie guided and summited Cho Oyu on May 17, and on May 25, summited Makalu in an alpine style 3 days! He now has 15 summits of 8,000 meter peaks.
While Willie Benegas is most notable for his impressive climbing Himalayan climbing resume, including eleven Everest summits, Cho Oyu, and Ama Dablam, he also has a rich climbing and guiding history in Africa. He has set speed records on Mt. Kilimanjaro and on Mt. Kenya when he climbed all massif towers in 16 hours. Willie has guided Kilimanjaro ten times and is excited to return to Tanzania with Alpine Ascents this summer.
Willie is often asked the question, “Why do you climb?” His response echoes his philosophy on life: “A mountain adventure will carry over into the many facets of life, teaching you about yourself, your co-existence with nature, and respect for other people’s cultures.”
- 11 ascents of Mt. Everest
- 3 ascents of Cho Oyu
- 1 ascent of Makalu
- 2011 Argentine Olympic Committee “Heroic Athlete Award” for rescue of abandoned climber on Everest
- 2010 AMGA Outstanding Guide of the Year
- 22 years of guiding experience and over 20 Himalaya expeditions
- AMGA Certified Rock and Alpine Guide
- Avalanche Level III
- Wilderness First Responder / CPR
- Leave No Trace Trainer
- National Ski Patrol Association- Snowbird Ski Patrol
- Golden Piton Award for the First Ascent of “Crystal Snake”, north face of Nuptse, Nepal, 2003